A survey from CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive reveals that Facebook Likes are the leading way consumers recommend nearby businesses, and websites play a key role in consumers' decisions to do business with brands.

A survey from CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive reveals that Facebook Likes are leading web referrals for local businesses, and websites that come out on top of search results play a key role in consumers' decision to do business with a brand.

The study found that 20 percent of consumers Like local businesses to show their support, compared to just 13 percent who write reviews. This indicates that local marketers must have Facebook pages in place if they hope to catch word-of-web referrals.

Local marketers catering to young consumers may be happy to learn that millennials are especially likely to use Facebook to recommend local businesses. Forty percent of people under the age of 35 Like a business, and this increases to 49 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds. By comparison, just 18 percent of the under-25 crowd writes reviews.

While Facebook recommendations impact about one-quarter of online shoppers looking for local merchants, 52 percent of respondents consult websites before deciding where to do business. This makes it clear that high-quality, optimized website content is key to converting consumers.

Nearly two-thirds of online consumers under the age of 35 (63 percent) say they use Google to find local businesses, and 17 percent say they click whatever the first site is on a results page.

The value of Google SEO is also evident thanks to a recent study from Optify.net. As Brafton reported, Optify found that the majority of clicks go to sites that come out on the first page of Google results.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.